Becoming a new mother can be extremely daunting. Whether you are having your first or fourth child, it is natural to experience a certain level of anxiety at the prospect of adding a child to your family.
This is true in “normal” circumstances, but with social distancing and isolation and new hospital procedures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, bringing a child into the world has been made all the more challenging and emotionally draining.
For many new moms (the lucky ones!) they have a support system in place. Often this support system begins by having someone attend some or all of their scheduled Obstetric appointments in the lead up to the birth. Then, in having someone by their side through the delivery or C-Section and then the family and friends that come to visit in the hospital as mom recovers. Once the family leaves the hospital, many new families will have friends and loved ones bringing over meals, helping to clean the home while mom recovers, entertaining other children in the house and generally giving mom a much-needed break!
With COVID-19, many new moms (and dads) are experiencing drastic changes to the way they bring their baby into the world. Birthing partners are not being allowed into the Operating Room for C-Sections and family and friends are not able to come and visit in the hospital or at home. This will inevitably take its toll on new moms and dads.
As someone who has had three C-Sections, I can’t imagine not being able to have my partner in the Operating Room with me. I know this would have been upsetting for my husband as well, to miss the moment our children were born.
What is concerning is that, although this new hospital policies and procedures are necessary in our fight against COVID-19, they are setting many more mothers up to experience dramatic shifts in their mood and wellbeing, as they adapt to these changes and experience the potential loneliness of this new “normal.”
What should you be looking for?
Whether you are a new mom yourself, or you are the husband/partner, family member or friend of a new mom, here are some things you should know;
- In general, within the first 3-4 days of giving birth, it is natural and common for moms to experience what is referred to as the “baby blues.”
- The Baby Blues include things like; being weepy, feeling irritable, feeling overwhelmed, feeling tired and experiencing changes in appetite (eating too much or too little.)
- For many moms, the baby blues will lift within a few days as your hormones settle and you adapt to the changes of having a new child to care for.
- If these symptoms don’t shift, and seem to last for weeks or months, this may be an indication that you are experiencing Post-partum depression.
- If crying has become a regular part of moms day and they are feeling sad, confused, scared, or even feeling numb, this is a sign of Post-partum depression.
- If mom is unable to sleep, even when the baby is sleeping, or is sleeping all the time, this is another symptom of post-partum depression.
What can you do for a new mom?
Even in this time of social distancing and isolation, there are some ways to help a new mom.
- Make/order a meal and leave it on the doorstep.
- Send a text/make a phone call to let them know you are thinking of them and that they can talk to you about whatever they may be feeling/experiencing.
- Arrange to have essential supplies delivered to them. Many businesses are switching to online ordering and delivery, or companies like Amazon are great for ordering helpful items.
- Have flowers delivered to her home. This is another great way to let a new mom know that you are thinking of her.
- Share your own experiences with new motherhood. Sometimes it is comforting to know that we aren’t alone in our struggles and that there is a way through these difficult times.
Signs of depression can easily be missed in new mothers, because significant changes in sleeping, interests, mood, energy and body weight are considered normal in new motherhood.
If you, or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of post-partum depression, it is important to seek the help of a trained mental health professional as soon as possible. During this time, many therapists are offering online or telephone counselling, so please do not put it off.
If you, or someone you know is thinking of harming themselves or someone else and they are experiencing extreme mood disturbances, call the Brantford/Brant County Crisis Line at 519.759.7188 or 911.
Please know that there is help, and that you and your baby can thrive, even during these difficult times.
Brant Mental Health Solutions is fortunate to have Registered Social Worker, Shelley Hall, on our team. Shelley has experience in working with women who are experiencing symptoms of post-partum mood disorders and will be facilitating a support group for new and expectant mothers when life can return to normal.
Stay tuned for dates for our group and for a post-partum screening quiz that will be on our website in the coming weeks.